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The Oscar Peterson commemorative loonie. Right: The Klondike Gold Rush loonie.

The Oscar Peterson commemorative loonie. Right: The Klondike Gold Rush loonie.

How colourful is your change? Over the past few years, so many new loonies and toonies have been introduced into circulation in Canada and some are surprisingly beautiful!

From Haida art-inspired toonies to the most recently announced Oscar Peterson commemorative loonie, here's a look at some of Canada's newest coins that have been released to the public across the country.

The Oscar Peterson coin

On Monday, August 15, a $1 commemorative coin in honour of Oscar Peterson was launched, which aligns with the famed pianist's birthday.

"Mr. Peterson's music and legendary performances have brought joy to millions of music lovers in Canada and around the world and we are proud to honour him, through this coin, for his exceptional contributions to Canadian music and culture," said Royal Canadian Mint CEO Marie Lemay.

The coin shows Peterson sitting at the piano with his hands in motion playing the keys. A musical scale shows the closing bars for his Hymn to Freedom, which became an anthem for the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

There will only be three million of the circulation coins minted, with two million of those featuring a purple accent, which is Peterson's favourite colour.

The Klondike Gold Rush coin

Launched on September 22, 2021, this loonie was designed to commemorate the Klondike Gold Rush, 125 years ago.

"The Mint is issuing a commemorative one-dollar circulation coin to remind Canadians that there is a more complete story to tell: one that speaks to the impact on the Indigenous people who have inhabited the land for millennia," read a news release at the time.

Two million coloured versions and one million uncoloured versions of the coin entered circulation "from coast to coast to coast" and a collector keepsake set that features both versions of the coin is available to buy, too.

The Insulin coin

A few months earlier, in July 2021, the Mint launched a new toonie to celebrate 100 years since a "Canadian medical breakthrough that changed the world forever."

The piece pays tribute to the four researchers who collaborated to discover insulin in Canada in 1921 and features scientific instruments, a maple leaf, blood cells and insulin molecules.

Canadians are more likely to come across the colourful version as two million were circulated, while one million uncoloured toonies were also released.

The United Nations coin

This piece of change was introduced on October 22, 2020 and marked the 75th anniversary of the creation of the United Nations (UN).

It became Canada's first-ever colourful loonie and features the UN's signature olive branch wreath in blue and Canada's iconic red maple leaf.

Two million of these pretty blue and red coins went into circulation as well as a million sans colour ones.

The Bill Reid coin

On July 28, 2020, the Royal Canadian Mint introduced a coin to honour "legendary artist and champion of Haida culture Bill Reid."

Launched 100 years after Reid's birthdate, it celebrates his "ground-breaking contributions to contemporary Indigenous art."

The $2 coin features one of Reid's most iconic pieces of art — Xhuwaji, Haida Grizzly Bear.

Three million of these coins were minted and two million of them feature the Haida Grizzly Bear in red and black, colours of Haida artistic tradition. The rest are uncoloured.

The Victory coin

On September 2, 2020, a new toonie entered circulation that celebrated the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

It also remembers "the Canadians who defeated enemies of freedom after six long years of service on the battlefield and on the home front," symbolized by a "V" for Victory.

The design was inspired by the five-cent Victory coin created by Thomas Shingles in the 1940s.

Three million copies went into circulation, two million of which included colours.

The Equality coin

On April 23, 2019, the Mint introduced the Equality coin in recognition of 50 years of "progress in recognizing the rights of LGBTQ2 Canadians."

The piece was designed by Vancouver artist Joe Average and is described as a "stylized celebration of equality viewed through an LGBTQ2 perspective."

"The image of two intertwined faces reflects gender fluidity and the spectrum of genders and is left open to interpretation: they may belong to two individuals or they may represent different aspects of one's identity," reads the release.

This unique loonie was limited to a mintage of three million in Canada.

    Helena Hanson
    Trending Editor
    Helena Hanson is a Senior Editor for Narcity Canada's Trending Desk focused on major news. She previously lived in Ottawa, but is now based in the U.K.
    Sarah Rohoman
    Trending Staff Writer
    Sarah Rohoman is a Senior Staff Writer for Narcity Canada’s Trending Desk focused on Canadian celebrities and is based in Toronto, Ontario.
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